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Castle built on curriculum

An Inkster School Grade 3/4 class took a trip to the Middle Ages after building their own sprawling castle in a multi-curricular project.

The castle, which features a working drawbridge, a throne room, an armory and even a dungeon, was made out of cardboard boxes and other recycled materials.

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Along with tapping their skills in visual arts and architecture, students embraced their acting skills and took on various roles in the castle.

“We learned more about medieval times and how people lived without modern innovations,” said student A.J. Guerrero, who as luck would have it, got to be king of the castle. “I’m at the top of the rich chain.”

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The seven-week project had students actively using the “4 C’s” of the 21st Century: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

“Building the castle allowed all students to collaborate starting with design, material organization, building, painting, decorating, fixing and acting,” said teacher Shelagh McGregor. “Many things surprised me having never taught this unit before. First I couldn’t believe how many curriculum connections this castle offered for learning. Science (structures), Social Studies (ancient societies), math (such as measurement and shapes), and Language Arts (including writing scripts, research, role play and readers theatre) and art work.”

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Students also incorporated a technological element, embedding QR codes throughout the castle. As other students toured the classroom, they could access the codes with their digital devices to watch further educational content.

The project also taught students about perseverance while pursuing a long-term goal.

“It helped us learn from our mistakes,” said Natalie Thiessen, who was the castle’s queen. “The dungeon kept falling down but we would build it up again.”

The project culminated with a medieval feast in June. Students invited their families to enjoy finger foods (eating in the same manner people ate in medieval times) and watch entertainment that included a battle tournament, readers’ theatre, jokes and recorder music.

Ultimately, the castle project proved to be engaging to every single student in the classroom.

“Student reflections showed me that each learner enjoyed something different from the project, which is an example of why we need different entry points to engage the variety of students in our classrooms,” Ms. McGregor said.

With files from Shelagh McGregor and Inkster School

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